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While browsing through all the site's possibilities I found that there seem to be irregular moderator elections. Last time was 2014. This makes me wonder if there is any policy: how often are there elections, who decides to hold them?

(I have no desire to become a moderator, but I do think that elections are a way to raise some attention and appreciation for people who are working their *ss off to keep things going.)

  • Maybe we should just have user appreciation day on the yearly anniversary that this exchange graduated :) - - I'm not sure what that would entail other than a meta post though... Nor do I have any idea the date the site graduated... – Howdy_McGee Jun 13 '16 at 18:27
  • @Howdy_McGee Celebrating each anniversary is a kinda cool idea. Travel.SE are celebrating their 5th at the moment with a month-long bounty bonanza to get old unanswered questions answered... – Tim Malone Jun 14 '16 at 2:17
  • So. who's gonna come up with a proposal? – cjbj Jun 21 '16 at 12:55
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    @cjbj Ping! meta.wordpress.stackexchange.com/q/4220 – Tim Malone Aug 1 '16 at 21:07
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Moderator privileges are not time-limited. I threw a fit when I learned, I thought I will do one year and will be done, lol.

New elections are generally held when there aren't sufficient quantity of actively involved moderators to handle their load of tasks comfortably.

Please note the SE principle of community moderation is significantly different from more typical moderator roles in other sites. Rather than moderators doing most of, well, moderating — bulk of the process is handled by community.

SE moderators are exception handlers. They get involved as little as possible, in cases which are more appropriate to be handled in private or moderator's binding vote is beneficial for speedy resolution.

Basically we are janitors, not bosses.

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    Basically we are janitors, not bosses. Not always for some mods ;-) – Pieter Goosen Jun 12 '16 at 9:19
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    Well, feel free to remind them they aren't. – Rarst Jun 12 '16 at 9:22
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Elections happen when we need new moderators. There is no fixed schedule, because moderators are elected "forever", meaning: their role ends only when they either quit or are asked to quit by the community team.

Right now, we have six moderators, three of us are active, three … not so much. But we can handle the work. This can change any time, so it is hard to say when we have the next election.

An election is initiated by the community team, usually when the existing moderators ask for it, or (didn't happen on our site) when the team sees that there are no active moderators.

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    not so much should be not active at all. Being active once a year counts as not active, specially looking at two of those moderators – Pieter Goosen Jun 12 '16 at 9:17
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The two mods have handled your actual question, but did not actually handle the last part of your question

Every member of the community is a moderator in his/her own right. From day one, everyone has a priviledge to edit posts, although you need at least 2K reputation to edit posts without having other members having to accept your edits first.

Your 'moderator' priviledges comes with reputation earned on the site, the more reputation you earn, the more priviledges you have. Someone like me (25 000+ rep) have earned all 'moderator' priviledges which is available to normal members. What separate us from mods is things like

  • mods can delete and undelete answers and questions by themselves, we need at least 3 votes from members with enough reputation to do so

  • mods can close a question by themselves, we need 5 votes from 3K+ members

  • Only mods can undelete questions and answers which was deleted by a mod, we can only undelete what was deleted by normal members

  • Only mods can handle flags like spam flags, special mod flags and rude flags, although it seems like if a question or answer recieves enough spam flags, it is automatically deleted without a mod having to step in

  • mods can approve suggested edits by themselves, we need two members to approve a suggested edit

  • mods can reopen closed questions by themselves, we need 3 votes (IIRC)

There are other duties that mods fulfil that I'm not sure of, but apart from that, as I said, we are mods in our own rights, but all of this means nothing if we cannot stand together as a community, we as community must moderate the site. It is impossible as a single member to try and moderate with our limited priviledges.

As @Rarst said, mods are janitors and is only there to handle issues that the community can't handle (stuff that is outside the list of priviledges we as normal members have).

Whether or not we have elections to elect new mods, I do think that being elevated to mod is not always the best way to reward someone for their hard work on sites like these. I personally put a lot of effort into this site, but has no intention of becoming a mod. Electing me to mod would not be a reward to me at all, it would just be a pain in the @ss to me.

I do agree that some users like @Gabriel does deserve some kind of reward or appreciation for his ongoing work that he puts into moderating the site, but making him moderator might not be in his best interest. At this stage, the is no reward system (except for the badge system which only works up to 1000 reviews in the six review queues) in place to reward these type of users, and I would really like to see something in the future being implemented to reward such people.

We can't be all moderators, neither does all of us like to be a moderator. Having regular or irregular elections to select new mods is not really a issue here (if you have a issue, you can probably take it up with SE admins), the real issue is to reward some users for the time and effort they put into moderating sites like these without having to promote them to mods.

As final conclusion, I think that if what you are doing on sites like these are just a matter of wanting to become a mod or someone special, then you are doing it all wrong. What you do should give you satisfaction, it must be from your heart and with love, you should never expect anything back in return. If you do this, then you are here for the right reasons

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    I wish I could vote up more than once :) – Sumit Jun 14 '16 at 11:12
  • the real issue is to reward some users […] Why would someone past 20k rep still need gamification? I don't see a need for that. After this point you are doing it because you are used to it. – fuxia Jun 14 '16 at 14:46
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    Regarding your mod duty list: One of the most time consuming issues are sock puppets. We have cleaned up a rather large network just last week. Handling this without collateral damage requires quite some effort. And then there are users who are trying to circumvent suspensions with new accounts … we have one user who has set up ~40 accounts over 11 months now. That's why we are grateful for every problem that the community handles without our intervention. – fuxia Jun 14 '16 at 14:47
  • @toscho I agree with your 20K+ comment. I was more talking about the low rep users (note the word some) like Gabriel who will in most propability never reach 20K rep, but still spend his time to moderate the site. Such users should be rewarded. Me, I most certainly do not care about getting rewarded or not. As you said, there is no need to point in doing that, been there, done that. – Pieter Goosen Jun 14 '16 at 15:16
  • @toscho Tell us more about the sock puppets. How do you detect them, what do you do to handle them? – cjbj Jun 15 '16 at 8:22
  • @cjbj That's a separate question. :) But … I am not allowed to reveal internals of our moderation tools. – fuxia Jun 15 '16 at 8:31
  • @toscho How many upvotes on a separate question do we need to force you to tell everything? ;-) – cjbj Jun 15 '16 at 8:33
  • @cjbj It is sometimes quite easy to spot sock puppets, most people are terrible at hiding aliases. I personally flag quite a lot of them if I get a sniff of a potential sock puppet. It is then up to the mods and network admins to use their secretive tools to confirm my suspicions or to tell me to stop flagging so much ;-) – Pieter Goosen Jun 15 '16 at 8:38
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    It works basically like this: We hijack the user's computer and make a photo with their camera. If two accounts show the same picture, or the camera is turned off, or we see a dog, we send the Black Van™. – fuxia Jun 15 '16 at 9:26

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